West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – The remnants of Hurricane Florence look as if they might drift right through the central portion of the Midlands over the weekend at tropical storm strength. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, that means us here in Lexington County. We have been added to one watch so far right here and the time line continues to drift around about as much as the storm itself.
Here’s what most of the trusted weather guys are saying. The full strength of Florence will hit just north of Wilmington, NC Friday morning. This is based on the National Hurricane Center’s radar tracking that shows it less than 30 miles off their coast moving west toward land at 5 mph about 5:00 a.m.. it will begin a turn to the southwest. Eventually, it will lose strength as it makes its way across land and will be dropped to a tropical storm or depression status.
The main worry is still all the rain associated with the storm. It doesn’t appear to be in any big hurry and that slow track means that lots of rain will fall before it moves through. Although we may feel an increase in some wind and see rain in Lexington County as early as Friday night, the big story for us looks as if it may be late Saturday and early into Sunday. We may see wind gusts, not sustained but gusts, of 55 plus miles per hour as early as Saturday morning and that could bring isolated or even regional power-outages. If we get heavy sustained rains, flooding will be much more of a concern for us. Be prepared to be without electricity just in case and watch for flooding if you’ve had floods in your area during prior events. All this is per the National Weather Service and other trusted weather sources. The latest weather conditions for our area without having to weed through tons of everyone else’s information can be found by Googling Weather Warnings and Watches and the community in which you live (Pelion, SC or West Columbia, SC, etc.).
Here’s are the current WARNINGS and WATCHES in place for us in Lexington County:
We are under a Tropical Storm Watch for Lexington County, South Carolina as of Friday morning
A watch means that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours. The watch does not mean that tropical storm conditions will occur. It only means that these conditions are possible. If it’s upgraded to a WARNING, that means it’s imminent.
What should you do right now? Here’s the National Weather Services page on preparing for this type of event: CLICK www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-plan. It includes the tropical storm planning guide and it should be helpful. I’d also download the SCEMD’s app for statewide news of the event, and The Lexington Ledger’s app for more local updates. We love our brothers and sisters on the coast, but our job is to keep you informed right here in good ole’ Lexington County.
In Lexington County, the rain is the thing. If, and that’s an if and not necessarily a will, the storm parks on us and dumps lots of rain, the usual areas will be subject to flooding. Areas close to the river like State Street between Knox Abbott Drive and Meeting Street, Riverland Park, Old State Road, some areas in Irmo near the Saluda River, and many of our dirt roads could see flooding. Those are just a few that come to mind and certainly isn’t a complete list.
Now, is there anything you can do to help to prevent problems; sure there is. If you live in a neighborhood with paved streets and gutters, get with your other community minded friends and check the storm grates, frames, and curb-inlets. Those are the cast-iron things or breaks in the curbs where water mysteriously goes when it rains. You may also see kittens jumping in and out of there in the spring when it’s not raining. These are all connected by pipes and it normally takes the storm water to a pond somewhere that will allow it to pool and slowly soak into the ground. If these are clogged by pine straw or trash, clean that debris up. Don’t just throw it behind the curb because if it rains hard, it’s going to wash right back into the drains! Bag it up and haul it off. If there’s no real convenient place to dump it now, stockpile it somewhere away from the road and take it off after the storm. Likewise, if you area is served by just open ditches, these need to be cleaned out. You might not be able to haul lots of sand away if the pipes and ditches are clogged, but just the mouths of the pipes under driveways will help. Also, declutter the ditches. Cans, bottles, and other debris can quickly stop these up and cause the storm water to jump the drive and wash it out. Remember, the water IS going to flow downhill to somewhere. Helping it get there faster will reduce flooding significantly.
I know as a country child raised in the south, many of us played in rain puddles. Just remember that everything in everyone’s yard runs into those big puddles when the rain is coming down. That’s Fido’s poop and pee, fertilizer, everything! Playing in this, especially with any breaks in skin like a crack or cut on a foot can allow deadly bacteria to enter little Johnny’s body. That’s just food for thought.
We normally have as many injuries after a storm as during one. Just because you used a chainsaw with your dad when you were 15, doesn’t mean you’ll be proficient at it now. I could throw one around with the best of them at 20. Now that I’m 55, I’m certainly no Paul Bunyan. These tools are dangerous and more powerful than in the past. They come with guards and chain-brakes for a reason; use those! I have also seen people get in just as much trouble and misery with a handsaw and a ladder as a power saw. Have a list of reputable contractors at the ready for after the storm cleanup.
Write numbers down now. Several articles in The Ledger have the right people to call for gas leaks, downed power lines, outages, etc. 911 is for life-threatening emergencies.
Any and all lines down after a storm should be considered deadly until after the experts have arrived and proved they aren’t energized. Do NOT approach downed lines to take a peek and see if it’s a cable or internet line. Contrary to popular belief, electricity can run in rings through the ground and you don’t have to come into contact with a downed line for it to kill you. Just don’t do it.
If you don’t need to drive, stay home. Wrecks increase dramatically during storms. Rainy weather is great sleeping or binge-watching weather. Tune up the t.v. if the power is on and try out those premium channels you pay for but watch so little of. If the lights go out, break out the cards or those old board games in the attic. Play Monopoly, Parcheesi, Chutes and Ladders or Go Fish with your children. You might find they’re not as obnoxious as you remembered when they are Facetiming their friends and ignoring you. If all else fails, read a book; You remember those, right? You might find a few in the attic. They’re like me, hard on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. Ha!
We are going to make it through this. Tie your trash cans down, bring the dog in, and get ready to be patient. It may be over quickly or a little bit more painfully, but eventually, it will be over.